Work can be a blessing. It not only brings in income, but it can also provide you with self-esteem, friendship and a sense of professional identity. Many of us are highly committed to our work, but at times, we may experience job-related stress. According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, workplace stress is an individual’s emotional and physiological response to the demands of a job.
Stress among social workers, and other helping professionals, it can be difficult as we deal with overwork with little time off, challenging clients, and low pay. But, many of us became social workers because we enjoy helping others and making a difference in lives of others. You spend so much time taking care of others we fail to take care of ourselves at work, and at home.
Here are three things you can do the combat job-related stress:
Protect Your Time:
Review your tasks daily and then “batch” tasks and projects. If you need to complete case notes. Then set aside 45 minutes or an hour and only work on that. Do not check email, return phone calls and talk with co-workers. Once that task is finished then move to the next task.
Another way you protect your time is to limit the amount of paperwork you bring home. If possible, do not bring WORK home. If you find that you need to catch up then designate only one day a week to catch up on work tasks. When I worked at the University, it seems as if I brought work home every day. I was grading papers, completing lesson plans or working on research or grants. I had to learn to delegate days to do each of those assignments and I “batched” projects by days.
Set daily goals. Identify what you can work on and accomplish each day and work on that. Assess what you can do. Plan your day. Evaluate what needs to be done for the next day and write those tasks down before you leave for work.
Create a Support System:
Create a “tribe” of supporters to provide encouragement and a listening ear when you need it. It is good to develop friendships both at work and at home. Take time to enjoy your friendships. Don’t isolate yourself.
Get rid of negative people in your life. If that can’t support you then they need to go. For some people this is an awkward thing to do. But, it is necessary as you start managing stress at work.
Clarify Your Career Goals:
Do you like the work you are doing now? Do you want to move in a different direction? If so, look at your strengths/limitations and passions. Once you identified them, then research careers in that area. Talk with professionals in that field for advice. Develop a professional network for support. The BCWN is an excellent place to start.